Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood -

Blu-ray Review

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Blu-Ray: Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter, Under the Hood
  • Rating: Unrated
  • Starring: Gerard Butler, Jared Harris, Salli Saffioti, Siobhan Flynn, Jay Brazeau, Matt Frewer, Rob LaBelle, Stephen McHattie, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Ted Friend, Carla Gugino
  • Written By: Alan Moore (not credited), Dave Gibbons, Hans Rodionoff
  • Directed By: Mike Smith and Daniel DelPurgatorio (Black Freighter), Eric Matthies (Under the Hood)
  • Distributor: Warner Home Video
  • Original Year of Release: 2009
  • Extras: Digital Copy, Story with a story – Exploring the comic-within-a-comic concept in Watchmen, Watchmen motion comic: Chapter 1, First look at DC universe’s new animated Green Lantern DVD, BD LIVE EXCLUSIVES: The Why of Watchmen with Executive Producer and Director Zack Snyder, The Two Bernies – Additional footage from the Watchmen film not seen in theaters
  • Series: Watchmen, Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter, Watchmen: Under the Hood

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood

Better to Rent than Buy!

By Robert T. Trate     March 23, 2009

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood on Blu-ray
© Warner Home Video


Now that the Watchmen has come and gone many of us sit in anticipation of its DVD release. Director Zack Snyder has already said there are plenty of scenes cut from the theatrical release that will be incorporated back into the film. The special edition of the Watchmen will hopefully satisfy many fans like the Lord of the Rings extended editions did. To capitalize on the (now diminishing) hype of the Watchmen,Warner Brothers has released Tales of the Black Freighter as a separate cartoon. Tales of the Black Freighter is Alan Moore’s pirate comic that runs parallel to his story and serves as allegory for what is going on the Watchmen universe. Many think the comic parallels Adrian Veidt’s attempt at saving the world in relationship to the Mariner’s attempt to save his family. Many others see it as comment on Rorschach’s uncompromising attitude toward criminals while embracing his true nature. The beauty of the Black Freighter comic is that it is open to numerous interpretations. 
As a stand alone cartoon Tales of the Black Freighter is dark, beautifully illustrated and serves as a perfect companion piece to the Watchmen. That is only if you have seen the movie and read the book. If you haven’t read the book (and why not?) then the where and when Tales of the Black Freighter takes place will mean very little to you. What becomes even more interesting for this fan of the book and the film is deciphering how Zack Snyder will incorporate this necessary piece of the Watchmen mythology into the film. Will the cartoon run side by side by side with the film as the two comics ran with each other? The overlapping dialogue will be easy but a cartoon and a live action movie cutting between one another? Perhaps there be a split screen presentation in the style of Saul Bass. Only time will tell.
The other dilemma in this economy is whether or not fans of the film and the comic will buy Tales of the Black Freighter. I was surprised that it was released after the film and not before. It really contains little to spoil the film so why wasn’t it released when the hype was at its zenith? Now many sit in anticipation and wait for the uber special edition with Tales of the Black Freighter contained in the film where it belongs. This release seems unnecessary. Tales of the Black Freighter by itself is just a dark twisted tale of revenge and madness.
Thankfully there is something contained in the Tales of the Black Freighter release that does make it worth while. Under the Hood is some of the supplemental material contained at the end of each “Watchmen” comic. Zack Snyder and Eric Matthies, director of Under the Hood, have taken many of the journal entries, papers and newspaper clippings and created a TV show called The Culpeper Minute: Under the Hood". They present the material in a unique and easily accessible format. Back stories and histories of the side characters from the Watchmen come to life in old news footage and one on one interviews. The obvious focus is Hollis Mason (Stephen McHattie), the original Nite Owl, and how his book, “Under the Hood”, brought the history of the Minute Men to the public. This TV show “originally” aired in 1975 and is meant as a look back since the Watchmen have resurfaced. For any fan of the book or the film Under the Hood is thirty-eight minutes of live action supplemental material to that incredible opening credit sequence to the Watchmen film. Since the Watchmen Motion Comic (see review) had none of this it is a perfect companion piece.
The supplemental material for Tales of the Black Freighter is kind of let down for this just over an hour DVD/ Blu-ray. Chapter one of the Watchmen Motion Comic is included and yet another look at the animated Green Lantern cartoon, which is identical to the Wonder Woman Blu-ray. There is of course a short documentary on why they did Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood.
The Tales of the Black Freighter cartoon and Under the Hood are both great but buying it now just seems like a waste. In a few months time you’ll have all of the Watchmen in a special edition that you’ll ever need. Your Tales of the Black Freighter will just be sitting there collecting dust.
Tales from the Black Freighter is in 1080p High Definition 16x9 2.41:1. Under the Hood is in 1080p High Definition yet presented in 1.33.1 and both are in Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood on Blu-ray


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ponyboy76 3/23/2009 9:04:18 AM

Yeah, I`d agree mostly with the review. They were both quality and I`d buy them in a deluxe edition along with the movie but not separately.

ashamel 3/23/2009 4:16:31 PM

Yeah. I thing the comic is great, and the movie did a pretty good job of filming it -- but I really don't have much interest in this. Having said that, it might be better on its own, rather than spliced in.

I guess I will wait to see what the concensus is.

darkheart00 3/23/2009 4:27:44 PM

 Splice it in Zack. So say we all.



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